LibreOffice update might make you consider abandoning Microsoft 365 for good

LibreOffice review
(Image credit: LibreOffice)

A new version of free office software suite LibreOffice has been released, bringing with it extended compatibility with Microsoft Office file types.

In a blog post announcing the update, the maker of the open source software bundle explained why it has been so difficult historically to build in Office compatibility.

"Microsoft files are still based on the proprietary format deprecated by ISO in 2008, and not on the ISO approved standard, so they hide a large amount of artificial complexity," the blog post states. "This causes handling issues with LibreOffice, which defaults to a true open standard format (the OpenDocument Format)."

Given the popularity of Office, and the sheer number of documents in circulation, LibreOffice needs to deliver comprehensive compatibility in order to attract users away from Microsoft. The team says users can expect multiple updates in quick succession, with this goal in mind.

Multiple changes

For those who aren't in the know, LibreOffice is a suite of office software designed to cover all the same bases as Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace. In the words of our reviewer, LibreOffice provides "a competing suite of office software that’s just as exceptional, versatile, and feature-rich at no cost to its users".

With the cost of living on the rise, the open source suite could be an excellent option for anyone looking to save on the cost of a subscription, particularly with the arrival of enhanced Office compatibility.

According to the blog post, users should check for new releases of LibreOffice on a regular basis, as the compatibility upgrades are coming so thick and fast that "each new version improves dramatically over the previous one".

Albeit arguably the biggest one, this is not the only change in LibreOffice 7.4. In fact, there are quite a few improvements in the latest version of the productivity suite, including the spreadsheet app, Calc, now supporting 16,374 columns, and the entire suite now getting support for dark mode in both Windows 10 and 11. 

When it comes to performance, the team has also made improvements for cases like PDF export, document loading, and more.

Sead Fadilpašić

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.